Island Health takes steps to stabilize and improve south island maternity services

Pregnant patients and care providers in the south island region will soon have access to more hospital-based support thanks to the development of an In-House Registered Midwife (IHRM) position at Victoria General Hospital (VGH).

“It’s important that everyone has equal access to the specialized health care they need and in their own communities,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “We’re committed to working with Island Health, midwives and physicians to ensure that care plans are in place for unattached labouring patients, providing pregnant people with exceptional care close to home.” 

A Registered Midwife will be scheduled on-site at VGH to support patients presenting to hospital in labour or with other maternity related care needs. The IHRM will support patients and care providers in a number of ways, including:

  • Assist in providing emergency assessments for patients whose community primary care provider is not immediately available
  • Provide assessments and support for clients who do not have a community primary care provider or are receiving care through VGH’s Antenatal Care Clinic
  • Conduct deliveries for clients receiving care through VGH’s Antenatal Care Clinic and patients transferred to VGH from other communities
  • Provide assistance to family practice physicians, when clinically appropriate, during periods of high patient volume
  • Provide in-hospital postpartum care for clients receiving care through VGH’s Antenatal Care Clinic and arrange community-based postpartum care after discharge

“We know there is much more work to be done in collaboration with our care providers, Registered Midwives, physician partners and the Ministry of Health to develop a sustainable maternity service that meets the needs of all pregnant patients on the south island,” said Leah Hollins, Island Health Board Chair. “The development of the IHRM position at VGH is an important step towards our long-term goals, and will benefit patients and care providers.” 

Funding for the position has been approved and Island Health is now working to develop staffing models and recruit more Registered Midwives, as needed, to support the role. An IHRM has been on-site for shifts since September 25 and the service will be built up in the weeks and months ahead, with a goal of having the IHRM at VGH 24/7. To date, 16 Registered Midwives have signed on to support the position.

“Delivering high quality maternity care requires a multidisciplinary team working together to meet the needs of our patients,” said Dr. Hayley Bos, Island Health’s Perinatal Medical Director. “The development of the IHRM role represents an important addition to our team and is an excellent example of collaboration that will benefit both our patients and care providers.”

“Registered Midwives are being increasingly recognized as key members of our multi-disciplinary perinatal care team, and for the important role they play in providing quality care for pregnant and birthing clients,” said Jill Pearman, Island Health’s Medical Director for Midwifery. “This new and innovative position presents an exciting opportunity to optimize our workforce, and to build a new team based service for our perinatal clients. I am grateful to the Midwives who have already stepped up to participate in this new way of providing midwifery care at VGH.” 

This new position is one part of the ongoing work to stabilize south island maternity services in the short-term, which includes VGH’s Antenatal Care Clinic, which has supported more than 500 appointments and over 50 births since March 2023. 

Island Health and its partners remain committed to the ongoing work of developing a robust, multi-disciplinary, team based care model for maternity services on the south island. We are thankful to our care providers, midwives and physician partners for their collaboration and commitment to providing our perinatal patients with the best care possible.